Cal Tuesday Practice: Notes

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The Trojans got back to work after two heartbreakers...

  • The injury list reads like the starting lineup.  Malcolm Smith is dragging his right leg around in a heavy knee brace.  Wes Horton is still out.  Dillon Baxter is on crutches. 
  • While injuries happen to every team, the biggest problem is how many players are banged up and "limited."  With all the defensive issues, it's hard to solve them with so many players sitting out the competitive portions of practice.
  • The other problem is that necessity trumps competition.  Instead of Devon Kennard and Chris Galippo battling it out for the middle linebacker spot, Galippo spent practice working at Smith's vacated position.  Now, Smith is helping Galippo prepare for Saturday.  "Absolutely, he really is," said Galippo about Smith.  "All three linebacker spots are different in their own ways."
  • Galippo identified "the little things" as USC's big problem defensively.  Lane Kiffin pointed to "tackling."  Monte Kiffin only knows one way to solve all the  "You have to go right back to work and keep working your tail off," Monte Kiffin said.  "Each player has to line up and play every play and be accountable for each other."
  • Speaking of the elder Kiffin, he has been heavily criticized by the fans.  When Pete Carroll arrived, he brought a "guru" or "genius" coordinator with him in Norm Chow, who struggled to ignite the Trojan offense in his first season.  What's my point?  I don't think Monte Kiffin forgot how to coach after all these years. 
  • Galippo could be at the center of the revival.  He committed a bonehead penalty on Saturday after an otherwise great performance.  But unlike last year, when he let his mistakes overcome his emotions, he is handling adversity with a calm, matured demeanor.  "Mentally, I understand the ups and downs of a long season," the redshirt junior said.  "A lot of younger guys, we recruit the best guys in the country, don't lose a whole lot in high school and it's tough to experience that."
  • Lane Kiffin was pleased with three forced turnovers against Stanford.  Of course, if it had not been for Kiffin's challenge, the last fumble would have been overlooked.  Galippo had no idea that he had made the biggest defensive play of the game.  "It was odd," he recounted.  "I think we got back in the huddle and Torin [Harris] was like 'Man, I thought that was a fumble.'  I had no idea.  I thought I was just making the tackle."
  • When the replay overturned the call on the field, the defense got on Harris, "I mean freakin' celebrate or something.  Let someone know you got the ball," Galippo joked.
  • Joe Houston was accurate in practice today and looks steadied after an ugly week of practice leading up to Stanford.  "I know I'm capable," Houston said.  "I just had such a hard week last week and no one's harder on me than me."
  • His confidence seems buoyed by the clutch extra point that he put through to give the Trojans a 35-34 lead.  "This team is going to count on me and I have to be a senior and step up," said the former walk-on kicker.  "I have not gotten the results I wanted and I'm not ok with it, but you have to learn from it."
  • I have a great picture of Houston and Jordan Cameron sharing a moment after that PAT.  "The guys on my team understand that what I have been putting out there wasn't me," Houston said of the great support he has gotten.  "[Cameron] just said, 'I'm so proud of you.  You deserve it.'  It meant a lot."
  • Christian Thomas has moved back to tight end, where he played during Fall camp, from defensive end.  Kiffin said that he has been performing well on the service squad at tight end, so they want to take another look.
  • Here is the coach and his lengthy injury list...

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